Jail for masked Scunthorpe gunman who opened fire in shop
A MASKED gunman who opened fire in a Scunthorpe convenience store in a desperate bid to pay off his spiralling drug debt, has been locked up for eight years.
Warren Walker, 21, of Spencer Avenue, Scunthorpe, waited until the coast was clear before entering Premier Stores on Wells Street, Scunthorpe – wearing a ski mask to disguise his face and with a double-barrelled shotgun under his arm.
Grimsby Crown Court heard Walker had debts of around £4,500 when he carried out the attempted robbery on October 19 at around 8.25pm. However, he left the store empty handed.
Police said the last time a similar offence in which a gun was discharged in Scunthorpe was around 30 years ago.
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Walker admitted one count of attempted robbery and one of possessing a firearm with intention to commit an indictable only offence.
CCTV footage played to the court showed Walker approach the store with the gun in a plastic bag. He was seen waiting until the coast was clear and pulling down his ski mask before entering.
The owner of the store, Gurch Singh, was alone in the shop.
David Gordon, prosecuting, described Walker's actions.
He said: "He mumbled a threat like 'give me the money', walked round to the front of the counter and stood facing him (Mr Singh). He pointed the gun at him at stomach level and asked him to put money and cigarettes in a plastic bag that he threw down on the counter.
"The gun was then put very close to his (Mr Singh's) face."
The court heard Mr Singh moved to his left to shield himself behind the plastic lottery stand.
Without warning Walker fired the gun above Mr Singh's head, showering him with broken glass from the bottles behind.
Mr Singh suffered lacerations to his head.
"Had he not ducked down he may well have been shot by the gun," said Mr Gordon.
But with the barrel now around three feet from his face, Mr Singh's ordeal was not over, the court heard.
Walker moved to the side of the counter, face-to-face with Mr Singh. He raised the gun and pointed it directly at Mr Singh through the Perspex glass.
Mr Gordon said Mr Singh described being petrified and added: "He knew the gun was real at that point."
Walker stared at him before turning to leave the store.
In an attempt to catch Walker, Mr Singh left the store and with the help of a passer-by, he searched the adjoining streets.
The case against Walker was strengthened by admissions made by his then girlfriend.
She told police "Wazza" was involved with drugs and had a drug debt in excess of £4,000 to a drug dealer.
Mr Gordon read out part of her evidence in court which said Walker did favours for the dealer by storing drugs and doing "taxi runs".
But when Walker was asked to look after a gun in September, she said he told her he had refused.
"He told her he had to do something – he was in debt so had gone in to the convenience store ran by someone he knew as Gurch," said Mr Gordon.
The court was told that following the night in question, Walker told his girlfriend he "had done something stupid" that "could have seriously injured someone".
Mr Gordon also gave evidence that showed the gun had been discharged on a neighbour's wheelie bin prior to the attempted robbery at Wells Street.
Edward Bindloss, mitigating, said Walker never had any intention to injure Mr Singh.
He also highlighted the pressure Walker was under, the lack of sophistication to the robbery and his early guilty plea.
Mr Bindloss said Walker had left the gun in a safe place – known to the drug dealer – and accepted it could still be in circulation.
Sentencing, Recorder Taryn Turner, said there was a number of "aggravating" features that could have seriously injured or even killed Mr Singh, who had served the community for 28 years.
He said: "He must have been absolutely terrified and he is suffering the long-term effects of that, so much so he is considering retiring.
"Why should he do that because of you?"
Walker was given eight years for the possession of a firearm and three-and-a-half years for the attempted robbery, which he will serve concurrently.
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